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U.S. airlines again asking protection against Gulf competitors

Staff Writer | February 8, 2017
The CEOs of three of the biggest airlines in the U.S. are due to meet with President Donald Trump on Thursday, after sending a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urging action against government subsidies given to its competitors in the Gulf.
Delta Air Lines
Air traffic   Delta, United, and American
The CEOs of Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and American Airlines wrote the letter to Tillerson last week, putting forward their opposition to subsidies given to the likes of Etihad Airways, Emirates Airline and Qatar Airways.

They will now meet with Trump in Washington for the first time, hoping for his administration to put the pressure on to allow their companies to compete with their Gulf rivals.

"The Gulf carriers have received over $50 billion in documented subsidies from their government owners since 2004," the CEOs said in the letter to Tillerson. "If left unchecked we will continue to see the Gulf carriers expand in the U.S. market, causing further harm to hard working Americans."

Open Skies agreements currently dictate that carriers can fly freely from the United Arab Emirates and Qatar to the US, something the airline bosses have also taken issue with.

They said that the aforementioned airlines are "abusing the agreements, and our government has done nothing to stop them."

Gulf carriers have always rejected the assumption that they are given preferential treatment however, with Etihad CEO James Hogan telling CNN that it will have to see how Trump's policies will affect its business.

"In regards to how that's addressed moving forward we will have to wait and see. At the end of the day you can only work with the issues that are in front of you. If those issues are raised again, we will tackle them," Hogan said.